BORIS Johnson today hailed “colossal” British troops as the final flight from Kabul landed in the UK.
The plane touching down at RAF Brize Norton this morning ended the biggest military evacuation in 80 years.
The final British troops arrive back in the UK today[/caption]
It also signalled the end of two decades of military involvement in war-torn Afghanistan.
The PM praised the effort in a video message today.
He said: “UK troops and officials have worked around the clock to a remorseless deadline in harrowing conditions.
“They have expended all the patience and care and thought they possess to help people in fear for their lives.
“They’ve seen at first-hand barbaric terrorist attacks on the queues of people they were trying to comfort, as well as on our American friends.
“They didn’t flinch. They kept calm. They got on with the job.
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“It’s thanks to their colossal exertions that this country has now processed, checked, vetted and airlifted more than 15,000 people to safety in less than two weeks.”
More than 15,000 people including 5,000 British nationals have been airlifted to safety in less than two weeks under Operation Pitting.
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RAF pilots flew 261,000 miles to carry evacuees to safety — among them 8,000 vulnerable Afghans, many of whom worked for the UK as interpreters or embassy officials.
Crowded on to 100 planes, the lucky ones — 2,200 of them children and the youngest barely a day old — will get the opportunity to build a new life in the UK.
One C-17 transporter plane leaving Kabul this week carried 436 people, the single biggest capacity flight in RAF history.
Operation Pitting was the largest UK military evacuation since World War Two.
The number of Afghans brought to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) since it was established in April is around 10,000, double the expected number.
In the last fortnight, British Armed Forces have also flown in and distributed vital supplies to support people moving through the evacuation process, including vegetarian and halal meals and 250,000 litres of bottled water.
The UK’s diplomatic efforts will now shift to supporting the people of Afghanistan from outside the country. Our Embassy and Ambassador to Afghanistan Laurie Bristow will temporarily relocate to Qatar to lead the UK’s diplomatic, security and humanitarian engagement.
The plan is to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Kabul as soon as the security and political situation in the country allows.
Officials say this will help Britain to deliver on a commitment to the people of Afghanistan.
This includes the delivery of humanitarian aid and by bringing more vulnerable Afghan people to the UK through ARAP and the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme.
The troops are escorted through RAF Brize Norton[/caption]
It brings an end to the biggest military evacuation in 80 years[/caption]
Troops and diplomats board the last flight out of Kabul to the UK[/caption]